PHOENIX (Feb. 22) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. did something he’s never done before Sunday at the 25th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals — beat good friend Kurt Johnson in the final round of an NHRA national event.

Prior to this meeting at Firebird International Raceway, the two veteran racers had matched up 55 times in the past with Coughlin holding a 30-25 edge. But K.J. held a distinct 7-0 advantage with a trophy on the line. That jinx has finally been lifted.

“That’s a crazy stat,” Coughlin admitted. “Any time you race Kurt you know you’re in for a battle and it definitely means a little more to beat a driver of his caliber. I’ll have to make sure and give him a hard time about this.”

Just as he had all day, Coughlin used expert driving to secure his victory against Johnson. He left ahead of his rival with a .030-second reaction time to Johnson’s .049-second start, and led all the way down the track, winning with a 6.643 at 208.01 mph to a 6.647 at 208.46 mph.

“Sometimes you really have to fight your way through a race and that was certainly the case this weekend,” said Coughlin, a 42-time winner in the Pro Stock class. “We’re still trying to fine-tune this new Chevy and we’re not at full speed just yet. My Dad and Roy (Simmons, crew chief) just kept at it every pass and the car was there for me. It’s really cool to win for them and for my little man, Jeggie III, who came along this weekend. He’s always good luck.”

Starting from the No. 4 qualifying position, Coughlin beat Steve Spiess with a 6.619, Pomona winner Jason Line with a 6.653, and Ron Krisher with a 6.651 to reach his 69th final round. His average reaction time on the day was .032 seconds and he had the quickest reaction time of the last three rounds.

This win moved the back-to-back and four-time series champion to second place in the Full Throttle points and leaves him just two markers behind first-place Line and 14 ahead of third-place Greg Anderson.

“We’re having some fun,” Coughlin said. “I don’t care how many of these things you win they’re all special. This team that Victor Cagnazzi has put together is just so talented. It’s a heckuva lot of fun to drive this racecar.”

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